Macri’s Austerity and Macron Neo-Liberalism with a Human Face: a comment by Old Socialist

I haven’t read anything in the American Press about the political unrest in Argentina. America’s  political narcissism is primary, and the outliers in South America hold no purchase on the crisis ridden Age of Trump.

Yet Macri’s exhumation of  Neo-Liberalism and his bribing of Vulture Capitalist Paul Singer, as entree back into the World Economic family, seems to be in actual political trouble. The best the Financial Times can do, in the realm of an Argentine political ‘experts’, are Fernando Iglesias and Maria Victoria Murillo, an Argentine political scientist at Columbia University. Neither one a Peronist! And the perfect choices to give credence to the Financial Times’ Anti-Populist Party Line. The question arises what was the actual legacy of the 12 years of Kirchner government, provided here by teleSUR :

‘For Argentines, just as the 1980s are referred to as the “lost decade,” the 12 years of Kirchner government (four by the late Nestor Kirchner and eight by Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner) is now often called the “won decade.”

The Kirchner governments found success in systematically improving the everyday lives of Argentines. Social policies, such as subsidies, pension raises and unemployment benefits, went hand in hand with the improved economy, as well as the necessary and popular overhaul of Argentina’s judicial system after the murky history of human rights abuses committed with impunity.

Nestor Kirchner was also a key figure in the regional integration of Latin America. He was the leader who managed to restructure 93 percent of the country’s massive debt, Fernandez took the baton and heroically battled the remaining 7 percent demanding repayment, known as the vulture funds.’—Landmarks-of-Kirchnerismo-20151022-0027.html

Fernando Iglesias extemporizes on the theme of Peronist rabble rousing, indeed on the tradition of ‘coup-mongering’ in Argentina:

Even so, Fernando Iglesias, a writer and former congressman who supports the government, argues that this is Mr Macri’s “most difficult moment” so far.

“People still don’t have money in their pockets, and of course the Peronist opposition is taking advantage of this with strikes, demonstrations and roadblocks . . . There is a long history of coup-mongering in Argentina,” warns Mr Iglesias, pointing to the failure of all non-Peronist governments to complete their electoral mandates since the return of democracy in 1983.

“The Peronists know that if the country recovers they will never return to power. The stakes couldn’t be higher, so they are going all in,” adds Mr Iglesias. Indeed, many senior figures from the previous government face corruption charges, including Ms Fernández herself, who is due to stand trial soon for the first of various cases against her.’

What the reader gets near the end of this extended apologetic on behalf of the Neo-Liberalism  of Macri, is this collection of data, that should have mollified even the most ardent Populist? This notion is in the realm of the chatter of the technocrat.

‘Officials complain that the timing of the general strike makes no sense. Despite a 2.3 per cent decline in gross domestic product overall in 2016, in the third and fourth quarters the economy grew by 0.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively compared to the previous quarters. Since October, around 25,000 jobs are being created each month, say officials.’

What is more than compelling in terms of argument is Maria Victoria Murillo’s comment that at first attempts to trivialize the strikes as:

‘…argues that the general strike is “not a big deal” and is “nothing new.” She explains that the leaders of Argentina’s fragmented trade unions need to flex their muscles from time to time to maintain support among the grass roots.’

And then she asserts that:

“It may have an impact on the margins, but ultimately the election will be decided by the economy,” says Ms Murillo. “Unless they can solve that, they are toast — the rest is decoration.”

Mr. Macri’s success is dependent on an electorate that is, to say the least, unhappy with his expression of Austerity, that is one of the central tenets of the Neo-Liberal Dispensation, dubbed ‘Reform’ by its acolytes.  It would have been the wiser course, to have offered to Argentina what Macron is offering to the French electorate: Neo-Liberalism with a Human Face, e.g.:

‘The candidate’s recently announced programme is thus a careful balancing act between progressive ideals of social solidarity and conservative aspirations to entrepreneurship and order: it includes a raft of liberal economic proposals, such as cutting public expenditure, reducing the number of civil servants, unifying the pension system, and introducing greater flexibility in the labour market. But it also contains socially progressive measures, such as increasing the number of teachers, offering additional resources to schools in disadvantaged areas, promoting greater equality between the sexes, protecting those on short-term employment contracts, abolishing the residence tax for 80 per cent of the population, and offering a “Culture Pass” of €500 to all eighteen-year-olds – a concrete affirmation of Macron’s republican belief that education and learning are “the apprenticeship of freedom”.

The metaphor is revealing, for at the heart of Macron’s vision lies the promise of an “enterprising and ambitious France”. His conception of the good life is that of an optimistic, cosmopolitan and socially conscious modernizer: committed to the transformation of the French economy, and releasing business from the burdens of high taxation and over-regulation, but also aware (not least as a child of the provinces) that the market alone cannot produce equal opportunities for all citizens, and that state intervention is often indispensable.’

Old Socialist





About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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